For millennia humans have pondered the most profound of all questions: What do Bill Gates and god have in common? If you, like me, guessed being a retired monopolist then according to Michael Rea, and cosigned by Victor Reppert, you are wrong:
Suppose Bill Gates were to go back on the dating scene. Wouldn’t it be natural for him to want to be with someone who would love him for himself rather than for his resources? Yet wouldn’t it also be natural for him to worry that even the most virtuous of prospective dating partners would find it difficult to avoid having her judgment clouded by the prospect of living in unimaginable wealth? …But, of course, Bill Gates’s impressiveness pales in comparison with God’s… Viewed in this light, it is easy to suppose that God must hide from us if he wants to allow us to develop the right sort of nonself-interested love for him.
You see, god can’t make it too obvious because we might all be golddiggers. The problem with this analogy, other than Gates generous philanthropism making god look bad, is that it conflates believing in god and accepting god as just or worthy of worship. Rea highlights Biblical passages supporting his cause while ignoring that, depending on a believer’s individual theology, Cain, Lucifer, demons, etc. knew of god but chose not to obey even in the slightest way. Clearly then these are these are separate issues.
Besides making for
easy bad jokes, arguments like this reveal the ubiquitous plague in theology that is failing to think probabilistically. Rea argues divine silence isn’t a problem because divine silence “might just be an expression of God’s preferred mode of interaction” which could actually be true. Accepting for the moment that Rea’s version of god is possible, it could be true that such a being exists, wants us to love it but refuses to provide substantial evidence but if you are being rational you can’t just assume that because it’s possible it’s true.
You must weigh this “or else it wouldn’t be true love” response to divine silence against competing hypotheses like a god exists but doesn’t want a relationship with humans and—gasp—that no gods exists so divine hiddenness is really just an expression of there being no gods. Without a strong reason to believe Rea’s counterfactual is true, divine hiddenness must lower the probability of his particular god hypothesis in relation to these alternatives because his theory doesn’t predict that evidence and other theories are far superior at accounting for this evidence.